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Biologist Names the Most Harmless Vegetable Crop for Global Warming – Newswise

A RUDN University biologist with colleagues from Egypt studied in detail the energy consumption of farms where vegetables are grown. The authors studied all the parameters that directly or indirectly contribute to global warming and named the safest crop from this point of view. The results are published in the journal Agronomy.

Newswise — The growth of the world’s population requires more and more to increase the volume of agriculture. Farmers are stepping up production – they plow more, fertilize, process. At the same time, each step of the technological process leaves its trace on the environment. These include greenhouse gas emissions, electricity consumption, and toxic waste. In the end, all these indicators add up and add their negative contribution to global climate change. A RUDN University biologist with colleagues from Egypt analyzed the production of the main fruit crops in terms of all these indicators and named the most safe vegetable in terms of environmental impact.

“Global climate change is becoming the most serious problem of the modern world. Agricultural activity is considered one of the main sources of greenhouse gases. Fertilizers, pesticides, machinery, manure and irrigation water are the main sources of greenhouse gases in agriculture. Therefore, it is extremely important to understand how energy is consumed and greenhouse gases are emitted during the production of crops,” said Meisam Zargar, PhD, Associate Professor of the Agrobiotechnological Department at RUDN University.

Biologists explored an area in the arid zone of Sohag Governorate in southern Egypt. It is an agrarian region in which almost all the inhabitants are engaged in agriculture. The most popular crops grown here are potatoes, onions and tomatoes. RUDN biologists have collected the most complete data on the farms of the region. The authors took into account the processing system, fertilizer, chemical use, technology and other parameters. The biologists then calculated the amount of carbon dioxide emitted and the energy consumed.

According to the data obtained, growing potatoes requires the most energy. More than 110 gigajoules per hectare compared to 76 and 96 gigajoules for onions and tomatoes, respectively. However, the production of potatoes turned out to be the most harmless in terms of greenhouse gas emissions – “only” 76 kg of carbon dioxide. For tomato and onion, this figure is 10-12 times higher – 940 and 834 kg of carbon dioxide. The main source of greenhouse gases on agricultural land is the emissions of machinery used for irrigation and cultivation of fields. In second place are inorganic fertilizers and manure. According to the sum of all indicators, potato production leaves the weakest mark on the environment. Among the general recommendations that the authors came up with are to reduce the use of chemicals and equipment, and optimize watering.

“The largest share of energy comes from inorganic fertilizers. Reducing the consumption of fuel, chemical fertilizers and irrigation water are the most important ways to improve. It is also vital to control pests in a way that reduces the use of chemicals. The transition to modern irrigation methods instead of traditional methods will reduce water losses and increase the efficiency of water use,” Meisam Zargar, PhD, Associate Professor of the Agro-Biotechnological Department at RUDN University.

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